By Bruce R. Partain
Chief Executive Officer
Nacogdoches County Chamber
Ed Pool is a successful Realtor, father and community leader.
He openly acknowledges the blessings he's received, and feels a responsibility toward those around him.
"God has given each person a gift to explore," he said. "Mine happens to be Gifts of Service. If we know and understand that gift, we are more fulfilled in life."
Pool will receive the Nacogdoches County Chamber's Citizen of the Year award Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Chamber's annual meeting and banquet.
Ed's community involvement includes the Glory Gang, Nacogdoches Rotary Club, the Chamber, NEDCO, and his church.
Part of his plan is simply to be available to those who might need him.
"I once asked a great salesman how he was so successful," Pool recalled. "He said, 'Never use the drive-through.'"
While that technique helps a salesperson become more visible, it also allows him to interact with people and simply thank them for being there for him, too.
Ed is a BIN - born in Nacogdoches. He ran with young friends such as Bailey McClain, Jeff Warr and Greg Power.
"Growing up, we lived on Pearl Street," he said. "It was 300 yards to the woods, and 300 yards to Dairy Queen. So I definitely had a happy childhood. We'd go to (Buddy) Still's Grocery at the corner of Austin and North Streets. Buddy was Rick and Joe Still's dad. The store used receipt books, so you could charge your groceries. My mom would tell me to pick something up, and the store would just write it in the book and bill her at the end of the month. They also had those balsa glider airplanes in a case, and I usually get one of those too."
Warr, now a county commissioner in Smith County, noted that " Eddie always was the finest kid, the best young man." There was one exception to this squeaky-clean image.
"If we were playing in the creek," Warr said, "he'd always came back the dirtiest. His mom would ask us, 'How did Eddie get so dirty?'"
In high school, Pool was active in Key Club. "That's where I learned to serve," he said.
Ed's family held a special place for many Nacogdocheans of an earlier time. "My Grandfather C.S. Jones built a house in the early 1940s where MarketPlace II is now. It had a circle drive, and a screened porch. They would put a life-sized Santa with reindeer in the porch, and lots of people would drive around the driveway to show their kids. There wasn't much to do apparently in Nacogdoches back then!" he laughed.
The Pool and Jones families have ordered a Santa to go on the roof of the new shopping center to remind folks of that old tradition.
As a recent chair for NEDCO, what does Ed Pool feel Nacogdoches has accomplished lately?
"For me, the Career and Technical Education Center is top of my list," he said. "It is huge. NEDCO started the idea in 2009 with a study to determine the feasibility. The County came aboard to help us secure grants. Then when they felt it was time to move out, NISD came onboard. I was NEDCO Chair from 2009-11 so that was my top project. At the same time, the Biomass plant was being built and completed. And the (civic center) hurricane evacuation center was dedicated."
More recently he's served as the top volunteer for the Nacogdoches Rotary club.
"The Rotary Pavilion and the Mobile Library are two projects I'm proud of, as Rotary President for 2013-14. We were looking for a brick and mortar project for Rotary. Jimmy Mize was involved with Lake Naconiche and suggested the pavilion. I've always like timber frame structures, so I contacted Tim Chauvin, and was delighted when he said yes. The day we were raising timbers was one of the best days of my life."
The Rotary club found recently that the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) had some additional money left from constructing the lake, and was willing to make it available for lake-related grants. "They encouraged us to apply," he said. "It could be from zero to $45,000. We figured we might get $10,000. In the end, with our detailed grant proposal, adjustments such as wheelchair-accessible sidewalk and willingness to work with them, we got the entire $45,000. We'll spread it over three years of projects, which will include a playground and picnic tables."
Pool also convinced Mize and other Rotary leaders to create a mobile library that would give away books once a week to kids gathering at local parks during the summer. The program segued into a Glory Gang project to feed young people during the summer.
Pool and Mize are also involved with the Glory Gang on Sunday evenings.
"He and I started going to Glory Gang five years ago," Mize said. "He dragged me along through the process. We first helped provide meals for services on Sunday night. They were having mac and cheese. We helped to pull other churches in to provide nicer meals like corn dogs, pizza and chicken strips. Grace Bible is a big part of that as well as First Baptist." The pair moved to driving the bus that picks up kids hungry for not only Sunday supper, but a spiritual relationship.
While Ed Pool has never sought the limelight, it is hard to ignore his "service before self" attitude and lifestyle.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber is proud to name Ed Pool as its 2014 Citizen of the Year.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce 93rd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet is Tuesday, Sept. 30, at SFA Grand Ballroom. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. The Gary Justice Business Excellence Award recipients and Citizen of the Year will be recognized, and the 2014-15 chamber board of directors will be inducted at the event.
The past five Citizen of the Year award recipients are:
2013 - Dr. Roger Van Horn
2012 - Sergeant Greg Sowell
2011 - Dr. Baker Pattillo and Dr. Janice Pattillo
2010 - Dr. Archie McDonald
2009 - Dr. Patsy Hallman